My 3 year old asked me tonite about her grampy, my father, who died 3 years before she was born. She got very sad and told me she wished she could give him a hug. We’ve had many conversations about him before and she knows he’s dead and that he was very sick before he died, and that she inherited her love of ice cream from him, whatever any of that means to her 3 year old mind. She does understand that it means she will never see him. It makes her sad. It makes me sad. My father’s favorite spot in the whole world was overlooking the Atlantic Ocean along a special walk called the “Marginal Way” in Ogunquit, Maine. It is where we scattered his ashes before eating a lobster dinner, and raising a glass to him. She knows it as “grampy’s spot.” So I pulled out a photobook of our trip to Maine last summer and we looked at pictures of grampy’s spot. She wanted more, so I pulled out a photo album with pictures of my dad. She stared at them as if staring hard would make him materialize in front of her. She was truly sad and my heart was full. She asked me how we could have put his body into the ocean. I tried to explain, but there didn’t seem to be a good way to explain cremation to a 3 year old that wouldn’t freak the shit out of her so I just told her that eventually his body became like sand and we put that in the ocean. She wanted to know if he would ever come back. She hoped he would so she could give him a hug and make him feel better. She knew the answer, but she wanted more. “Do people come back like flowers?” she asked. I said, “do you mean, like when a flower dies, a new one grows in it’s place?” She said, “yes.” I said, “well I think sort of, but they don’t come back exactly as the same person they were before.” She said, “then how will I give him a hug?” We hugged each other tight and pretended we were hugging grampy, but we both knew it wasn’t the same.